Survey Says: Tell Us Your Predictions for the Future of Software

posted by in Industry March 23, 2017
Mar 23

When will you be able to buy a 4D-printed coat that becomes waterproof when it starts to rain? When will the government start collecting taxes via the blockchain? When will an augmented reality movie win a Golden Globe award? When will you work for a company with a robot on its board of directors? When will you own a quantum computer?

Let us know in a new survey from the World Economic Forum.

As the Chair of WEF’s council on the Future of the Digital Economy and Society, these are some of the questions my colleagues and I focus on when we think about what software will look like and where it will take us in 5, 10, or 20 years. In 2015, we surveyed more than 800 executives and experts on when they thought 21 “tipping points” would occur – moments when specific technological shifts would hit mainstream society, such as robotic pharmacists, reading glasses connected to the internet, and 3D printing. We compiled this data into a new report, “Deep Shift: Technology Tipping Points and Societal Impact,” to illustrate society’s expectations for the future. And in the process, we also found that it got people thinking about the types of software changes that are coming and how to prepare for them.

It’s two years later, and software-driven technology has continued to jump forward. We’ve seen more mainstream applications for blockchain emerge, as well as big strides in virtual reality and augmented reality. Advances in neural networks and quantum computing are challenging our basic conceptions of how the world works, while 4D printing is already a reality.

WEF will be issuing a new set of predictions and we invite you to be a part of it. Click here to take the survey and tell us: how do you see the future?

New Irish Warrant Case Decision – Again – Points to Need for Congressional Action to Update ECPA

posted by in Data January 27, 2017
Jan 27

The importance of this week’s decision by the Second Circuit to deny rehearing in Microsoft’s Irish warrant case has less to do with the action in court and more to do with what happens next. Specifically, with what happens in Congress.

Last July, a panel of the Second Circuit held that a warrant issued by US law enforcement under the Stored Communications Act (SCA) does not have extraterritorial application. As Judge Carney notes in her concurrence with this week’s order: “[I]n many ways the SCA has been left behind by technology. It is overdue for a congressional revision that would continue to protect privacy but would more effectively balance concerns of international comity with law enforcement needs and service provider obligations in the global context in which this case arose.”

Laws regarding privacy and law enforcement have always struggled to strike a tricky balance: they must ensure that personal data receives the greatest protection possible while enabling investigators to do their job of keeping the public safe.

Unfortunately, in the digital world, the three decades-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which is part of the SCA, does neither effectively.

This is understandable. Remember, when ECPA was enacted more than 30 years ago, our use of technology and cloud computing was dramatically different. Today, we store nearly all of our information in the cloud – emails, pictures, documents, health and financial records – and we expect to be able to access it whenever and wherever we are. Thirty years ago, we did not have the web of globally connected data centers and the software to move our data seamlessly around the world.

Software companies and civil liberties groups have urged Congress for years to update ECPA. The updates that passed the House of Representatives unanimously and had bipartisan sponsors in the Senate last Congress would make much-needed changes to enhance privacy protections that we have long championed. This week’s Second Circuit opinion is an important reminder that Congress must also focus on creating an international framework for accessing data – an issue that has also already received bipartisan, bicameral leadership in Congress.

As judges on the Second Circuit have said repeatedly since oral arguments in the case back in September 2015: the best next step is “congressional action to revise a badly outdated statute.” Our digital privacy laws need an update to protect both our privacy and security.

An Open Letter to Congress: Software Industry’s Priorities Create Jobs

posted by in Data, Industry, Intellectual Property January 12, 2017
Jan 12

Dear 115th Congress,

Congratulations on your election to office – we look forward to working with you. Job creation will undoubtedly be a top priority on your list in the coming year, and it’s a top priority for our industry. As our recent economic impact report shows (done in collaboration with the Economist Intelligence Unit) the software industry contributes more than $1 trillion to the US GDP, nearly 10 million jobs, and $52 billion in R&D, with significant effects in each of the 50 states. As you begin your work, we’d like to draw your attention to software industry priorities that directly impact jobs in the US.

It’s predicted that by 2020, the number of new computing jobs in the US will rise to 1.4 million, but we’ll have just 400,000 computer science students with the skills to apply for them. Congress can and must make investments in STEM education. With the proper training, thousands more Americans will be prepared to take those great-paying jobs.

To help increase jobs in the US, Congress can maintain a firm stance on international data policy. Companies of all sizes across all industries rely on the ability to transfer data around the world to provide essential services. Recently, other governments have pushed to keep data within the confines of their borders. This would have serious effects on the ability of businesses in the US to offer services abroad, and thus threaten American jobs. Congress can help businesses in all 50 states grow by supporting a strong data policy agenda.

The software industry also hopes to see Congress work on polices to properly protect intellectual property. These policies will in turn foster jobs because they encourage the research and development that drives innovation. Patent reform can reduce frivolous litigation and free up resources for greater investment. Congress should look to enable the jobs of the future as software continues to develop a range of cutting-edge technologies that greatly improve lives and help solve intractable problems.

Software is and will continue to be a major driver of jobs in the US. We stand ready to support you in improving the lives of our citizens and the economic future of our country.

Sincerely,

The Software Industry c/o BSA | The Software Alliance

A Positive Step in the Encryption Debate

posted by in Cybersecurity, Privacy December 21, 2016
Dec 21

The members of the House Encryption Working Group took on a seemingly impossible task this year when they set out to bridge the gap between the two sides of this noisy and difficult debate. That makes the result of their work – a series of balanced findings that summarizes their careful consideration of these issues – that much more important.

All sides should thank them for it, and we should pledge to work together toward responsible solutions in the next Congress.

As the Working Group notes, encryption plays a crucial role in securing the data of all Americans in our increasingly digital lives. Legislative mandates that undermine the technology would only serve to make everyone less secure. At the same time, the report recognizes – and BSA strongly supports – the important work of law enforcement in protecting our safety and pursuing criminals. To help investigators and prosecutors do their jobs, it will be important to examine new efforts at cooperation between law enforcement and the technology community and to consider new investigative tools and techniques.

The Working Group’s report is the culmination of months’ worth of work by a bipartisan group from the Energy and Commerce Judiciary committees. BSA appreciates their efforts, and we urge Congress to build on the Working Group’s thoughtful report by engaging in a broad dialogue that continues to examine all facets of the encryption debate.

We shouldn’t understate the difficult path that lies ahead. Addressing these concerns while maintaining the greatest possible security will not be an easy task. But with all sides working together, we can develop policies that ensure users the strongest possible digital security and provide law enforcement with the tools they need to keep us safe. BSA looks forward to working with Congress to finding workable solutions that protect security for everyone.

BSA Celebrates the Software of 2016

posted by in Industry December 20, 2016
Dec 20

With 2016 coming to a close, BSA’s global staff took some time to look back and name the software that helped them the most this year.

BSA Celebrates the Software of 2016

Building on a Constructive Conversation

posted by in Industry December 16, 2016
Dec 16

Wednesday’s meeting between President-elect Trump and executives from numerous software and technology companies has been reported with great fanfare. Rather than the tense exchange that many pundits predicted, the sit-down provided an opportunity for a constructive conversation. This is a welcome development, and it points to a real opportunity for government and industry to work together to help bolster the $1 trillion impact that the software industry has all across the US economy.

Here are some ways we can work toward that goal: The president-elect and software companies can help grow jobs in the United States by focusing on efforts to bolster STEM education and improve training programs. The incoming administration can also ensure that the path forward on trade ensures a level playing field in the digital space. Across the administration’s developing agenda – from efforts to make reduce government waste and improve services to projects to update infrastructure – software and software companies can offer real expertise and improvements.

Making progress here will require hard work and engagement and we look forward to working toward these goals.

Is It Santa or Software?

posted by in Industry December 15, 2016
Dec 15

The holiday season is in full swing and many of us are shopping for presents. We’ve talked a lot on TechPost about how software affects almost every aspect of our daily lives, and gift-giving is no exception. From making the present to capturing the joy, software is helping us out this holiday season.

Let’s say you want to buy a stuffed bear for your baby niece – let’s call her Zoe. Software can help you every step of the way.

Making

There would be no stuffed bears without the toy companies that design and make them. Before we even start to think about gifts, toymakers are hard at work preparing for the holiday season. Software allows manufacturers to get instant feedback from their customers to design the best possible product. Design software combines 3D modeling with IoT development tools, so that manufacturers can build smart components into their products right from the start. So not only can designers model the bear’s features from 360 degrees, they can also plan to program an “intelligent assistant” so the bear can speak to Zoe.

Shopping

Once you find the perfect bear, it’s time to buy it. Software and chip technology protect your information by generating a unique one-time code for every transaction that verifies the card’s authenticity. The chip also encrypts your information during the transaction to guard against identify theft. Banks use software to flag suspicious purchases and alert you of any potential credit card fraud.

Shipping

Software helps get the bear to Zoe quickly and accurately. During peak holiday season, companies like UPS each deliver around 30 million packages. Telematic sensors in tens of thousands of delivery trucks track engine performance, improve routes, and anticipate maintenance or route problems in advance. Shipping companies use data collected by vehicle sensors to save millions of gallons of fuel through more efficient logistics. Thanks to GPS tracking and AI, companies can predict weather patterns and anticipate delays. Cloud computing helps expand these systems to the thousands of additional employees hired during the holiday rush, and makes sure the bear gets to Zoe on time.

Sharing the Joy

Zoe loves her bear and her mom texts you a photo of her giggling with her new toy. Photo software helps ensure the picture is of the highest resolution and the lighting is just right. Once Zoe’s mom has a great photo, she sends it to you over a wireless network that runs on software. Wherever you are in the world, you can share in the joy.

In the mad rush between buying presents and spending time with family and friends, we may not realize how much work software does behind the scenes. Whether it’s a stuffed bear or the latest tech gadget, software helps businesses and people select, purchase, create, send, and receive their gifts on time. In the season of giving, software is doing just that.

Happy Holidays from BSA!

Building on Today’s Achievements, the EU Can Harness Software’s Full Potential

posted by in Industry November 22, 2016
Nov 22

This article originally ran on EurActiv on November 22, 2016.

We live with the benefits of software every day; so much so, in fact, it easy to underestimate its contribution.

Software contributes almost one trillion Euros to the EU’s GDP (including indirect and induced effects); if the software industry’s total contribution in Europe were a Member State, it would be the EU’s sixth largest economy. The software industry also supports jobs for almost 12 million people across Europe (including indirect and induced effects) and contributes more than 7 percent of all business R&D expenditure.

These figures are more than simply eye-catching numbers; they act as an important reminder to policy makers of the pivotal role of software in the EU economy. We call upon these policy makers to further help create a legislative environment that realises the full potential of software for Europe’s economy and citizens.

Software thrives on innovation. It evolves at exponential speed, increasing European competitiveness by boosting all other sectors of the economy. Unlike more traditional sectors of the economy, software does not need an external catalyst to bring about change — it is the catalyst. As the rate of innovation accelerates, the EU must embrace its ability to respond to change. To harness the full potential of software-driven innovation, the EU should continue implementing policies that will continue to encourage innovation and capitalise on the contribution of software.

The EU has taken some very significant steps in the last few years to foster its digital economy, breaking down national barriers and harmonising rules and regulations with the objective of unifying its digital single market. We can do even more.

Ensuring the free movement of data across borders, not only within the EU, but also globally, is therefore paramount in ensuring that Europe stays abreast of data-driven innovations. In this light, the Commission’s upcoming initiative on the free flow of data is an opportunity to recognise the general principle of unimpeded data movements and remove unjustified data localisation rules across the EU. The Internet of Things is already revolutionising our lives and opening a new world of opportunities. By pursuing policies that foster innovation and adopting a thoughtful and timely legislative framework, EU lawmakers can enable the EU to reap the benefits of IoT.

Our health, our wealth, our work, our social lives, our leisure, and our security are all improved by software, and the promise of further benefits is limited only by our imagination. Software is the key to the benefits of the 21st century; the EU should seize the opportunity.

**The figures in this article come from a report released today by BSA | The Software Alliance, prepared with data provided by The Economist Intelligence Unit. Read the report, “Software: A €910 Billion Catalyst for the EU Economy”, here.

It’s Time to Move the Encryption Discussion Forward

posted by in Cybersecurity, Data, Privacy November 15, 2016
Nov 15

Encryption Principles Art
The encryption discussion in Washington has been locked in a polarized stalemate for months — with loud voices on distant ends deeply dug in.

Encryption is a complex issue that affects a range of global stakeholders, from governments to businesses to individuals. The ideal solution needs to consider all legitimate sides of the argument and can only be achieved through open dialogue. It is time for this stalemate to end.

To move the conversation forward, BSA | The Software Alliance has developed a set of Encryption Principles, to be used by governments around the world to evaluate proposals on encryption in a balanced way. These principles frame a comprehensive approach to address the important needs of global cybersecurity, public safety, and personal privacy and prosperity.
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Software Meets Stethoscopes in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

posted by in Industry October 27, 2016
Oct 27

Software significantly impacts almost every part of our lives, and since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month we’d like to recognize some of the great contributions software makes to fight cancer. Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer worldwide and it’s imperative that we do all we can to improve diagnosis and treatment, and work toward a cure.

We’re already doing great things with software, like using AI software to diagnose breast cancer 30 times faster with 99 percent accuracy. However, the rate at which any form of cancer grows and its response to treatments differs from person to person. So, some are turning toward a more individualized approach. But to make that happen, you need a way to collect and analyze information faster than humans can.
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